Saginaw Valley State University is focusing on safety as it prepares for the upcoming fall semester during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Tuesday, July 14, more than 100 incoming freshmen participated in orientation sessions that placed them in classrooms and campus spaces that have been re-configured with features designed to keep them safe from the virus, SVSU said.
“We have been working on this plan for a long time, and now we’re seeing how it looks with students here on campus,” said Ron Portwine, SVSU’s associate vice president for Administration and Business Affairs and its chief business officer. “It’s exciting and provides an opportunity to receive student feedback on the changes we’ve made.”
Some changes include wearing masks, reimagining classrooms and other social areas, and placing signage around campus that encourages safety-based practices.
“Students will notice the changes when they come back in the fall,” Portwine said. “Safety is our priority. We also want them to enjoy the college student experience.”
Additionally, most class sizes will be reduced by 50 percent in the fall. This is to allow more room for social distancing, Portwine said.
"We've been in the process and our project manager spent a large amount of time reviewing drawings of every classroom and redesigning those spaces so each student could have that 6-foot space," Portwine said.
The university also plans to install plexiglass shields at classroom podiums and transaction counters.
“Hand sanitizer and environmentally-friendly cleaning agents also will be available in classrooms. Students will be expected to clean their classroom work surface as part of a shared responsibility to maintain a safe campus,” the university said.
Additional changes will be made to the cafeterias and residential halls.
“We’re creatures of habit, but we’re constantly learning how to adapt to the pandemic,” Portwine said. “We’re going to continue to adapt, but this is still going to feel like SVSU."